"If you're afraid of butter, use cream." - Julia Child

Monday, August 24, 2015

beef tenderloin with garlic, shallot & parsley butter

"Best ever" is not a term I throw around lightly. But this really is the BEST TENDERLOIN EVER, y'all. I promise. It actually melts in your mouth.

Tenderloin is a pretty expensive piece of meat, but it sure is easy to cook with. And this is a perfect dish for entertaining when you really don't want to be in the kitchen the entire party! Try it out for your next special dinner and I promise you won't regret it.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Garlic, Shallot & Parsley Butter
Prep time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Yields: approximately 4-6 servings

Tenderloin Ingredients: 

  • 1 3-lb. beef tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp. good quality salted butter (like Kerrygold), softened
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Garlic, Shallot, & Parsley Butter Ingredients:
  • 4 Tbsp. good quality salted butter (like Kerrygold), softened
  • 2 Tbsp. minced shallot
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parley
  1. Using a sharp knife, trim any excess fat and silver skin from the tenderloin and discard. Using kitchen twine, tie the tenderloin crosswise every 2-3 inches. Generously season each side of the tenderloin with salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. After resting, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic and 4 Tbsp. of softened butter. Slather the tenderloin generously with the garlic butter until all sides are coated. 
  3. When the oven is preheated, set the tenderloin on a wire rack above a baking sheet (so the excess liquid can drip onto the sheet). After 20 minutes in the oven, flip the tenderloin to the other side and allow it to roast for another 45-55 minutes. *The tenderloin will continue to cook after removing it from the oven, so take it out about 10 degrees rarer than you want to serve it.
  4. When the roast registers an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute so that when you slice it, the juices don't all come running out. 
  5. While the meat is resting, you can prep the garlic, shallot and parsley butter. In a small bowl, combine the butter, shallot, garlic and parsley and stir until well-mixed. 
  6. After the meat has finished resting, cut the twine off and discard.  Slice the meat crosswise into 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. Arrange on a serving platter and spoon the garlic, shallot, parsley butter onto the meat. Allow it to melt and serve immediately with your favorite side dishes.

Monday, August 10, 2015

tex-mex quinoa stuffed avocados

Hey y'all! It's good to be back!

After a year-long blogging and Facebook hiatus, I'm making a re-entry into the social media world with the intent of getting my butt back in the kitchen and cooking my own meals again (thank you Chipotle & Grub Hub for basically being unofficial sponsors of a busy last year)...

I won't bore you with excuses (they aren't good ones, anyway). Just happy to be back after a year and sharing a very favorite recipe with you: tex-mex quinoa stuffed avocados.

My love affair with avocados has grown exponentially since Pinterest finally taught me how to pick a good one out. Check it out here. The base recipe is vegetarian, but I've made these several times topped with shredded chicken too. Either way, I think you'll like 'em!

Tex-Mex Quinoa Stuffed Avocados
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Yields: approximately 4-6 servings

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock (or you can use water)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) your favorite salsa  
  • 1.5 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil  
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4-6 medium avocados, perfectly ripe
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional toppings: shredded chicken or sliced skirt steak, sour cream/Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, salsa, green onions, etc.
  1. In a medium sauce pan, add the quinoa, stock (or water), salsa, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano. Stir well to combine and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, immediately cover with a lid and turn down the heat to low. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Let stand another 5 minutes off the heat. 
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, put another medium skillet on medium-high heat and add your 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add your chopped onions and garlic and sautee for 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft. Do not burn!
  3. When the onions are done, stir in your rinsed black beans, corn, chopped bell pepper, and chopped jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow everything to sautee together for another 3-5 minutes until the peppers are done and everything is hot. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine your cooked quinoa and the pepper-corn-bean-onion mixture and stir to combine well. Taste again and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Right before you're about to serve to avoid the avocados turning brown, cut your avocados in half, remove the pit and then peel. Peels should remove VERY easily from a ripe avocado. 
  6. To serve, I put scoops of the quinoa mixture into the avocado halves and then let folks top them however they want. I like Greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onions, but feel free to get creative! 


Thursday, September 4, 2014

proscuitto sammies with pea pesto & crumbled goat cheese

Growing up, I thought sandwiches came in only 4 forms:

1) Peanut butter and jelly
2) Peanut butter and marshmallow creme (Fluffernutter, anyone?)
3) Grilled cheese
4) Blimpie  (no hate; still love me a Blimpie Best)

So I got bored. I got so bored that growing up I would actually tell people, "No, I don't really like sandwiches."

Ah, from the mouth of babes.

Little, sandwich-criticizing Brittany finally grew up though.

And she grew up to taste such epically delicious sandwiches as Austin's Noble Pig's seared beef tongue sandwich and New Orleans' Central Grocery's famous Muffaletta.

I learned that sandwiches are as exciting (or as boring) as you make them. And I choose exciting. Well, and delicious.

Husband and I tried this mouth-watering, Italian creation the other night and just about vowed to call it our favorite sandwich ever. There are some really great flavors going on in this sammie, but feel free to add some of your favorite toppings to make it your own.

Prosciutto Sammies with Pea Pesto & Crumbled Goat Cheese
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Yields: 2 large sandwiches

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 (8 oz. each) French bread loaves, halved
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/8 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

  1. In a food processor, blend your thawed peas, mint, water, oil and salt & pepper. Blend until very smooth.
  2. You can skip this step, but I thought warm French bread sent this sammie over the edge. Heat your bread in your oven's lowest setting (mine was 170 degrees) for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed. Then cut in half lengthwise.
  3. Arrange your halved french bread on plates. Spread your pea pesto mixture on both sides of the bread for both loaves. No need to have any pea pesto remaining.
  4. Arrange the remaining toppings evenly between the two loaves (2 oz prosciutto, 1/2 of the sliced red onion, and 2 oz. of goat cheese each).
  5. Put the top on the sammie and...you know what to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

baked strawberry donuts

Essentially, summer in donut form. Just make sure you have a trusty donut pan like this.

You can buy one here
True fact: Baking your donuts (instead of frying them) means they're healthier! Plus, these have bite-sized pieces of fresh strawberries baked inside. So basically, these are like healthy, nutritious, vitamin-rich donuts.


Baked Strawberry Donuts
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Bake time: 10-12 minutes
Cool time: at least 30 minutes
Yields: approximately 10-12 donuts
Inspired by Cooking Classy  

Donut Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup fresh strawberry puree *directions below
  • 1/4 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup cake flour *Here's a handy instructional on how to make your own cake flour with all-purpose + cornstarch if you do not have cake flour on hand
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 4-5 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 3/4 cup diced, bite-sized pieces of strawberries
Icing Ingredients:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons of whole milk 
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1-3 drop of red food coloring, optional
  • colored sprinkles, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your donut pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter and set aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree about 10-15 strawberries (depends on the size of your berries) to yield 1/3 cup of fresh strawberry puree. In a mixing bowl, whisk together your strawberry puree, yogurt and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. Into a large mixing bowl, sift together your cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy about 2-3 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the egg and the egg whites, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Working in three separate batches, add 1/3 of the flour mixture alternating with half of the strawberry/yogurt mixture. Repeat until all incorporated. Scrape down the sides one last time.
  7. Turn off your mixer and fold in the 3/4 cup diced strawberries gently by hand. Gently stir in your red food coloring, if using, until the batter is your favorite shade of pink.
  8. Divide batter into your prepared donut pans, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 10-12 until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. 
  9. Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  10. To make your icing, whisk together your sifted powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and red food coloring until you have a smooth icing. Dip each donut into the icing and replace on the wire wrap to allow any excess icing to drip off. Top with sprinkles, if desired, quickly before the icing hardens. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

mini chicken & cheese tostadas

I can't promise you the world.

But I can promise you a no-fail, guaranteed hit of a party appetizer.

That's fair, right?

Last weekend was one of my best friend's housewarming/husband's MBA graduation/her birthday party all in one. Talk about efficiency! Her gorgeous new home was packed with hungry friends all sippin' on some delicious almond champagne.

These tostadas didn't stand a chance. I carried two empty platters to my car.

Guys, these are so not hard. They are easy and cute and people eat 'em right up! Plus, they are also totally customizable. You could do thinly sliced steak instead of shredded chicken or even refried beans for a vegetarian version. Or add guac instead of sour cream. Add pico. Go crazy! Just make them delicious and your own.

Mini Chicken & Cheese Tostadas
Prep time: 4 hours (for the homemade shredded chicken) + 15 minutes of assembly time
Yields: approximately 75 mini tostadas

  • 1 large bag of your favorite brand (I like Tostitos) tortilla round-shaped chips
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts *Or you can sub shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 jar (16oz) of your favorite salsa *Not needed if using rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • cilantro, for garnish 
  1.  *Skip this step if using pre-shredded rotisserie chicken. Add your chicken breasts and jar of salsa to your crockpot. Cook on high for approximated 4 hours until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. Drain the excess juice and put your shredded chicken into a bowl to cool.
  2. After you've let your chicken cool a bit, you can start assembling. On a large serving platter (or two), arrange approximately 75 tortilla round chips in rows. Add a bit of shredded chicken to each one. Top with sprinkled cheese and a little dollop of sour cream per tostada. *You can also pipe your sour cream from a Ziploc bag with a small bit of the corner cut off if you want to make them look like mine.
  3. Garnish each tostada with a cilantro leaf and serve. *I keep my cilantro leaves intact since lots of people hate cilantro, but they make for such a pretty finish. Cilantro-haters can then easily take the leaf off before they eat. Everyone wins. 
  4. TIP: Make these fairly close to the time you'll be serving them. If left out for too long, the tostadas can get soggy underneath from the ingredients so they are best served quickly. And trust me, they don't last long once they are served! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

arugula & tomato pesto pasta with roasted baby beets

Even though my basil plant is the size of a small tree right now, I opted to make a different version of one of my all time favorite foods: pesto. No regrets.

In my humble opinion, pesto goes on everything. Pasta, potatoes, chicken, etc. and if Paul Qui wanted to try pesto ice cream, I would probably be first in line.

This arugula & tomato version is fantastic--"zippy" being the adjective that comes first to my mind.  There's just a lot of really lovely, bold flavors going on here. With peppery arugula, sweet tomatoes, tangy lemon juice and the rest of the classic pesto ingredients, I promise, you will not be disappointed in flavor. The red pepper flakes also add a nice touch of heat.

I also won't judge you if you left the beets out. Probably, Husband's preference. However, I could eat beets by the handful. If you hate beets, I'm sorry; this is not the dish to convert you. Beets shine in all their delicious glory so if you hate 'em, leave 'em out.

Arugula & Tomato Pesto Pasta with Roasted Baby Beets
Prep time: 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes (or only 5 minutes if using pre-roasted beets like I did)
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Inspired by: love and olive oil

  • 2-3 medium baby beets (golden or red) *I cheated and used Trader Joe's steamed and peeled baby beets. It'll save you a lot of time!
  • 16 oz shaped pasta *I used penne 
  • 3.5 oz (or 1/2 bag) organic arugula 
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 large (or 2 small) garlic clove(s), peeled and smashed
  • juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Jump to step 2 if using TJ's steamed & peeled beets. If roasting your own beets, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry your beets. Drizzle them lightly with extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes until they can be pierced easily with a fork. Allow them to cool slightly before using paper towels to rub and remove their skins. Skins should peel off very easily.
  2. With either your own roasted beets or the Trader Joe's steamed and peeled ones, dice the beets into bite-sized cubes and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to its directions. Drain when done.
  4. While the pasta is boiling, you can make your pesto. In either a blender or a large food processor, add your arugula, tomatoes, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until fairly smooth. Then stream in the olive oil until pureed nicely.
  5. Combine the warm pasta with the pesto and stir until the pasta is well coated. Top with the diced beets and extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese. This is delicious served either warm or cold (we had it leftover the next day for lunch straight out of the fridge!).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

richardson living magazine: stove-top kettle corn

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to write once more for Richardson Living Magazine and share a favorite recipe: kettle corn.

Man, I love me some kettle corn. I love Trader Joe's kind that you can by for $1.99/bag, but I gotta say, homemade kettle corn is so delicious and is much cheaper to make at home. I was raised on PopSecret and that buttery, microwaveable goodness (and by "goodness," I really mean "badness") and had no idea that popping your own pop corn on the stove was SO DANG EASY.

Sorry, PopSecret, but you and I are no longer friends.

Check out the link to the article here or see the text below.

Bonus: you get to learn about "That One Time I Went Camping." It was brutal.
I am not a camper.

Right or wrong, I love my bed, my air conditioning, and my hot (and private) showers.

I did go camping once. It was required through my school, so no, I did not go willingly. With my entire 8th grade class, I was forced to trek through the dense Ozarks, use an outdoor, literal hole-in-the ground outhouse, sleep in an A-frame tent that never zipped up (welcome, bugs), and cook all of my food meal over fires I made without the use of matches. The purpose of the trip was something about getting us private school, suburban kids outside in nature to appreciate creation and learn basic life skills. Blah blah blah.

All I could think about was how I had done nothing to deserve this. I was on the headmaster's honor roll and had never been in detention. Why was I hiking for miles in the hot sun with a heavy pack on strapped to my little back? Why did I have to line up for a "tick check" every evening? Weren't line-ups reserved for prison?

So while the trees in Arkansas were pretty and I was definitely awake every darn morning in time to see the colorful sunrises, my ultimate takeaway over a decade later is that I utterly hated camping. It was cruel and unusual punishment and one I never planned to subject myself to again unless the world ended or something and I was forced to live outside.

Flash forward to marriage. My husband and I will celebrate 3 years of marriage this summer. He's heard my horror story of "That One Time I Went Camping" numerous times by now although he kept insisting camping didn't have to be that way. It could be wonderful he said. "Big Texas skies full of bright stars, delicious food cooked over a campfire, and warm, cozy tents that zipped up and held, wait for it, AIR MATTRESSES inside."

Wait, what? Were we talking about the same concept of "camping?" Because his way didn't sound like torture. It sounded...kind of nice.

Husband proceeded to tell me about how much better food tasted when cooked outside over the open fire and in a cast iron pan. When he camped with his family growing up, his favorite part was the food, especially kettle corn. The sweet and salty addictive snack was cooked right over the campfire and enjoyed by hungry, tired campers by the handful.

So while I may not love camping, I do love kettle corn . I may never know how kettle corn tastes when popped in cast iron and over a fire, but I do know it can taste pretty darn good cooked in the comfort of my own kitchen.

I share this recipe with you today in the hopes that you can enjoy some kettle corn by the bucket-full. Whether you make it in your kitchen or over a campfire is up to you. I bet you can guess where I'll be enjoying my kettle corn--no bug spray required.

Stove-Top Kettle Corn
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1-2 minutes
Yields: 10 cups kettle corn

  • 1/4 cup oil *canola or I use coconut
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels 
  • 1/4 white sugar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt 

  1. In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add one kernel of popcorn. You'll know your oil is ready when that singular kernel finally pops. When it does, add all of your kernels and sprinkle the sugar on top. 
  2. When that one kernel pops, add all of your kernels and sprinkle the sugar on top. 
  3. Quickly cover the pot with the lid. Shake the pot a bit while the popcorn pops. Eventually the popping will slow down and that's when you will remove the pot completely from the heat. In total, the popping should take about 1-2 minutes until done. 
  4. Pour the popcorn into a large bucket or bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.